Sony throws a party

Newest models in Paris

At the Dream World exhibition in Paris this weekend Sony showcased its newest products, including the prototype biped robot QRIO, mock-ups of high definition cameras, the long awaited Blu-ray Disc recorder and a Network Media Receiver that conveniently streams digital content from a Vaio PC to a TV or hifi system.

The Palais des Congrès in Paris was open to the general public this weekend after three days of demonstrations for European dealers and trade press. Here dance tunes were spun by famous French DJ's, while visitors create their own compilations on Net MD and Sony Ericsson mobile phones were transformed into navigation panels for remote control car racing. But hey, we were there to try the products.

Perhaps the most significant product showcased was the new Sony PC-TV. The elegantly designed PCVW1, with its acrylic/aluminum finish, can be used in its PC position (with the keyboard showing), or in the TV position with the keyboard folded away. A third option transforms the device into an audio player.

Will we ever watch TV on it? Not from a distance, anyway. Despite its ultra-bright 17 inch high resolution wide screen, it isn't an appropriate replacement for the LCD TV's. However, you can use the device to easily record TV programs and playback recorded shows.

The new CLIÉ PEG-UX50 handheld, integrating Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies together with AV functionality, is a typical Japanese product: too small to be taken seriously, despite a nice scrollable Graphic User Interface (GUI).

On the other hand, it has a couple of nice features. Its CPU automatically operates at a frequency that draws a minimum of power supply voltage by monitoring its operation speed constantly. When the device detects the battery level is extremely low, it automatically stores information on to a separate built-in non-volatile memory.

Unfortunately the keyboard is awkwardly small, which makes us long for the return of the Psion 5 (with USB, Bluetooth and better screen, please!)

The new Network Media Receiver is a single device that allows streaming of videos, photos and music from a Vaio PC. Stills and videos can be viewed on the TV in the living room and music stored on a PC needn't be enjoyed only via the computer. Philips already demonstrated similar possibilities earlier in the year.

Sony still hasn't fallen out of love with robots. The new AIBO ERS-7 boasts enhanced communication skills and new levels of functionality. For the first time, the onboard memory enables AIBO to retain the personality that it will develop over its lifecycle. It is also the most connected AIBO yet, thanks to built-in Wireless LAN connectivity and a larger 32MB Memory Stick.

Because of new electro-static sensors, a gentle stroke on AIBO's head or back will trigger a response without needing to push or click. The ERS-7's eyesight is three times better than previous models, Sony says. And the AIBO comes with a pink bone which the robot can, for the first time ever, pick up in its mouth. Quite impressive, really. ®

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